Mayo’s Think Big Challenge Demonstrates New Emphasis On Commercialization

Mayo’s Think Big Challenge Demonstrates New Emphasis On Commercialization

A focus on technology transfer at Mayo’s Transform 2016 conference.

If there was an overriding message at last week’s Mayo Clinic Transform 2016 conference and what was arguably its highlight – the Think Big Challenge – it was that Mayo leaders are firmly committed to their recent entrepreneurial direction. For them, it’s now all about the transformation of medical innovations into market action.

That ethos was on full display at Think Big Challenge held at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, where five startup CEOs were competing for a $50,000 seed investment from Mayo Clinic Ventures. The Challenge’s aim is to help match new health care technologies developed by clinicians with the right business partners. Mayo has a long list of potential health care innovations that are currently sitting on the shelf waiting for entrepreneurs to take them to market.

Several of those technologies were selected by the Mayo Center for Innovation, and a challenge to would-be entrepreneurs was issued: Come up with the right business plan for these ideas and you could win not only the investment, but also a license to the technology and chance to lead a team of Mayo clinicians. Plus, you would get a cool title: “Mayo Entrepreneur in Residence.”

Of the five finalist CEOs that made it to the stage last week, three of them chose to focus on the same Mayo technology—the Bedside Patient Rescue (BPR).

Originally developed in 2012, the platform is an electronic medical records data tracker combined with a “risk-predictive” analytics score logic, all in an effort to catch subtle patient condition changes that can occur before in-patient hospital deaths. These deaths, though rare, are particularly vexing because they can happen without obvious indications of decline.

Mayo’s BPR provides alerts to the provider team when a patient’s risk of deterioration rises. Its innovation is that through the use of predictive algorithms, it can apply logic that is far more complex than can be reasonably expected to be noticed by nurses in a normal care setting. And, Mayo says, the technology has already demonstrated higher predictive value.

Of the three plans to commercialize BPR presented at the Think Big Challenge, a five-person panel comprised of Mayo leaders, venture capitalists and Gary Smith, president of the Rochester-area economic development agency, the winner was Shantanu Nigam, CEO of Atlanta-based Jvion, a provider of clinical predictive analytic solutions.

Nigam’s approach is to integrate BPR as a “plug-and-play” application into its existing suite of predictive health care algorithms the company has established. They are already being used by a client list of more than 200 hospitals with which Jvion has “strong relationships” and who have shown themselves to be “early adopters who understand the power and potential of predictive capabilities.”

The new commercialization avenue established between Jvion and Mayo, and the use of an attention-grabbing contest to do it, is illustrative of how the clinic’s leaders are now irrevocably committed to doing much more to partner with business in getting new products onto the market, even at a time when the costs of commercialization and regulatory barriers are high.

It’s basically the mantra of the Mayo Center for Innovation and its medical director, Dr. Douglas Wood, who has served on the Governor’s Health Care Reform Task Force and has been a leader in health reform in the state. He told TCB that Mayo sees one of its core missions as conceptualizing solutions to the health care industry’s biggest problems and finding ways to translate them into the real world of clinical settings.

“We’re not very bad at all at creating ideas, but one of our shortcomings is sometimes taking them to market, and so what we’ve decided is that innovation, first and foremost, has to be action-oriented,” he said. “Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean it’s innovative – and unless something actually gets done, there is no innovation.

“So, having a good partner, like Jvion, that’s really what innovation is all about. And for companies that are interested, we have many other opportunities as well.  So I think that’s really where the future of medicine and the application of advancements will come.”

Further pressing the theme of opening new avenues to commercialize Mayo innovation at the Think Big Challenge was Mayo Clinic Ventures Chairman Jim Rogers, who told attendees that the upcoming development of the clinic’s Discovery Square project is helping to create a “critical mass” in transforming Rochester into a health care technology entrepreneurial hub.

“If you look at just the field of regenerative medicine, and what’s occurring there even in the past three or four years, you’ve gone from therapies that were considered ‘concepts’ to therapies that in some cases, are curing people,” he said. “There’s still a lot to be proven, but it’s already changing the way we practice medicine.

“In medical devices, health care IT and digital health, it’s truly amazing the amount of disruption that’s occurring. From our perspective, we love having these types of competitions to highlight what we see as some of the entrepreneurial activities happening at Mayo. But it’s just a small slice, and what we’re finding now with the Destination Medical Center project is that more companies were willing to set down roots here in Rochester.”